There is a stone tablet on the wall of St. Nicolas' Church, Portslade stating that the Blakers have been associated with Portslade since 1485. The earliest document relating to this family is in Lewes Records Office. It is the will of Edward Blaker, who died in 1571, leaving his house in Portslade to his son Edward after his wife's death. This house is almost certainly Kemps, the large house at the top of the High Street, as it was built about 1540 and was owned by the Blakers for many years. His wife Christian died in 1578 and both are buried in St Nicolas' Church. The family then spread out, some went to Shoreham, others to Kingston Bowsey, and some remaned in Portslade.

Edward and Christian's grandson Edward Blaker married as his second wife, Susanna, the daughter of Tuppin Scrase of Hangleton Manor. Their son, also an Edward, lived at Buckingham House, Old Shoreham and was Member of Parliament for Shoreham 1658-1678. His wife Dorothy was a daughter of Henry Goring of Highden. She erected a memorial to her husband in Old Shoreham Church. William Blaker, the brother of Edward was High Sheriff of Sussex in 1684.

Nathaniel Blaker was a very prominent citizen of Portslade in the 18th century, and also lived at Kemps. He and his wife Elizabeth from Patcham had a large family of 7 sons and 5 daughters. When he died in 1815 he left his house to his two spinster daughters, Cordelia and Catherine, and they remained there with their brother Thomas, who was also unmarried. His son, Nathaniel resided at Selmeston. John married Sarah Hardwicke of Hangleton Manor, and lived at Lewes. Edward became a grocer at North Street, Brighton and also had a house at Portslade. George lived at Ovingdean; Charles never married, and died fairly young. Harry became a Surgeon, and the other daughters married except Ann, who died in her thirties.

Edward Blaker's son, also an Edward, built Easthill House, and his daughter Elizabeth married her cousin the son of John Blaker and Mary Borrer. They lived in Portslade Lodge from 1909. Edward's two youngest daughters lived in Sellaby House.

Nathaniel Paine Blaker, great grandson of old Nathaniel, has written a book called "Reminiscences of Sussex Life" which is full of little incidents about village life in the 19th century. He was also a surgeon, and he tells many stories of hospital life in those days. He wrote his book in 1904.

By 1900, not many of the Blakers remained in Portslade. The last Blaker was Joyce, daughter of Cecil Renshaw Blaker, B.A., of Queen's College, Oxford. He was a grandson of John Blaker of Lewes. Joyce married twice, and spent her last years in St. Helen's Old Peoples' Home, Portslade, where she died in 1967 at the age of 79. Her son worked for some time at Jodrell Bank, and then went to Sydney, Australia. Her married daughter still lives at Eastbourne.


Just west of Hangleton Manor stood an old hunting lodge called "Benfields." First built in 1325 by the Benfield family, it came into the possession of the Coverts of Slaugham, who rebuilt the house as a hunting lodge. The frontage was 66ft. long, and noticeable for the shields of the family in stone displayed on the carved stone porch. First mention of the Coverts occurs in the Rolls of 1449. They were of Norman descent and owned a fine Manor House at Slaugham which has since fallen into ruin. They were amongst the greatest landowners in the south of England, and tradition says that they could travel over their own manors from Southwark to the English Channel. John Covert died in 1503 and his son Robert succeeded to Benfields. He was Sheriff of Sussex in 1523. Thomas Covert who died in 1640, gave the manor to his wife Diana, daughter of Sir George Goring. here are some interesting memorial brasses of the Coverts in Slaugham Church.

By the middle of the 19th century, "Benfields" was falling into ruin, and in 1872 it was completely destroyed to make way for a row of farm labourers' cottages for Benfield Farm, which are still there today. Sixteen of the stone shields were carried away by Edward Blaker to be preserved, and were built into a wall at Easthill House. This garden wall no longer exists, but some of the shields are still inexistence.


Lindfield House is another old house which no longer exists today. It stood in South Street, where the Baptist Chapel is now, and was built about 1862 for William Dudney who owned the Brewery. Originally this site was part of Ten Acres Field which was the property of the Bridger family and once was a farm. Later it was leased by the Peters. Inthe middle of the last century an inn was built there which was called "The Prince of Wales", and was run by various landlords until William Dudney bought it in 1851. He modernised it and rebuilt it and lived there with his family for many years. In 1863 the Dudneys lent the front room to St. Nicholas' School and the first classes began there until the new school buildings were ready in.....

from "The History of Portslade an Interim Report 1977" researched by the members of the "History of Portslade Group" ( B. Banks M. Huntbach J. Mc Greish J. Winder R. Gill J. Middleton, the work was directed by G. Durban and edited by K. Bourne - ( Mrs.B Banks was a senior librarian in Portslade and wrote a book on local history, Mrs J Middleton former Hove Librarian is a well know author in Sussex of many local history books, on subjects as, Portslade, Brighton, Hove, and general Sussex history. ) )

with many thanks to Dave Sharp - a sidesman at St. Nicolas

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